Final Annotated Bibliography: ~10 sources with annotations, of a paragraph or two each
Final Critical Citation Review Length: 1500 words minimum

Annotated Bibliography Draft Due: October 29
Critical Review Draft Due: November 5
Final Version Due: November 12

For this assignment, you will be researching a topic of your interest in order to trace the scholarly “conversation” around that topic. This topic could be one that you’ve come across in another course, in extracurricular research, or in some other aspect of your experiential learning. It could be a topic that is located mostly within one particular discipline, or one that researchers from across fields seem to be talking about, and maybe even talking to or referencing one another about. The topic should be one that is not so broad that you will never able to skim all the key works about it to know what their projects are, yet not so specific that there are only a select few works published about it. The bounds and particular focus of your topic will likely be an ongoing, recursive negotiation that you make as you research, depending on what and how much you find when you start looking.

You will produce an annotated bibliography, in which your annotations describe and evaluate each source’s contribution to the conversation it enters, as well as its relevance in the “conversation” you establish among the sources you’ve accumulated.

From that bibliography, you will pick a single source (or small set of sources, if appropriate) that’s perhaps central to current work on this topic, or that highlights a particular direction on the topic that correponds to your interests. You will then write a critical review of this source that situates its role in the sources you’ve selected in more detail, with specific attention to how it uses citation as a rhetorical practice to make its intervention.


Annotated Bibliography

You will assemble a bibliography of your sources written in any citation style, as long as it’s consistent. I encourage you to make use of a citation style common to your field, with the understanding that there are some styles that will probably work better for an annotated bibliography (i.e. ones that have a work cited list with sources arranged alphabetically, in which annotations can be nested under each source). A good choice might be to use a style most of your sources use. When in doubt, feel free to use MLA or APA instead.

Your annotations for each source should summarize the purpose/project of the source in the context of the conversation it’s entering (on its own terms), assess its usefulness and compared to the other sources that appear in your bibliography, and reflect on its role in your own research on the topic. To do so, you may refer to features like citation patterns and metrics (who and what the source is citing, or is cited by), the key terms it uses, and any field-referencing moves where applicable. Does, the author, for example, say what field they are part of or working from, or what field they are writing for? What are they saying they are doing, versus not doing?

While annotated bibliographies are often a useful drafting tool when performing research, a means of organizing your thoughts, annotated bibliographies can also be public-facing genres in and of themselves. For this reason, please think about who you are imagine could pick up and use this bibliography. Are they in a particular specialty? Your broader field? Perhaps one of the other fields that your sources hail from? This will help shape how much you need to gloss in your annotations, versus what terms you can take for granted as common language.

Critical Source Review, focused on Attribution

For this component of the assignment, you will pick one (or a small set, if the need arises) of the sources in your annotated bibliography and write a critical analysis of its place in the academic conversation you’ve established in your bibliography. This will be an “argument-driven” essay about this key source: your “thesis,” here, will be what the significance of the source is to the topic you’ve established, in terms of how the source works to signals that significance. Specifically, I would like the argument you make to deal with some aspect of how your source references others’ work, including what kinds of field-referencing (and other “metadiscursive”) language it uses; what materials the source cites, and how, to locate itself with respect to what other scholars are doing or have done; and who the source has relevantly been cited by. These are all practices that you may portray as specific to a particular field, based on the texts we’ve read about citation practices and field-building.

You will support this argument by referring to patterns in the text, including specific moments (quoted or paraphrased, where appropriate).

Some guiding questions here that you may consider to generate ideas, as you process the source you select for this essay:

  • What is the source’s stated purpose, or “project”? To survey and summarize research on a topic? To present an argument that builds on past research? To refute another writer’s argument? To answer a new research question, or replicate findings on an existing one? These are just some of the possibilities.
  • Who or what does the source tend to cite or draw from? How is this done in the text? Is it typical of the field?
  • Who is the source written for? How does this audience relate to the work it draws from or responds to?
  • What important terms does the source define? What terms does it take for granted?
  • What are the source’s central arguments or conclusions? Are they clearly stated? Are they supported by evidence and analysis?
  • Does the source say what methods are used? Where (what fields or academic traditions) are these methods from? Are they useful for the purpose?
  • Is the source lacking information or argumentation that you expected to find?
  • How is the source organized? Does it match a structure common in the field it’s published in, or field are working in? Is it easy to follow?
  • What might the writer’s style have to say about the source’s audience? Are their choices effective?
  • If the source includes illustrations or charts, are they effective in presenting information?


In your final annotated bibliography, I will be looking for:

  • entries with complete bibliographic information, in a consistent style;
  • annotations that summarize, assess, and reflect on each source, making reference to citation metrics and/or practices we’ve covered in class where notable; with:
    • word choices and definitional work that show an awareness of audience for the bibliography;
    • ideas in your annotation properly attributed to the authors where appropriate, distinguishing implicitly between what the source describes as its significance versus what you discuss as its significance in more declarative statements.

In your final critical source review, I will be looking for:

  • An introductory paragraph that:
    • introduces your source and where it was published, the conversation on your topic to which it contributes, and what that contribution is;
    • explicitly states an argument about the source’s intervention in a particular scholarly conversation, expressed in terms of its attribution practices;
  • a second paragraph or short section that provides necessary context for your argument, situating the source in the others sources on its topic that you’ve researched for the annotated bibliography;
  • body paragraphs that develop your core argument, while:
    • quoting or paraphrasing particular moments from the text in support of your argument;
    • engaging with texts from the class (e.g., on citation practices and field building) to the extent they’re useful for situating or framing the argument you’re making about your source;
  • a concluding paragraph that does more than simply restating your argument, discussing what that argument might have to say about the source’s disciplinarity. You might focus here, especially, on how the where the source locates itself makes it more or less useful for your work with the topic.

Note: you may choose to organize your review into sections with subheadings, if you find some sort of organizational scheme useful.